25 Counselors on Hand After Lanier High School Suicide (Update)
Classes resumed today at Lanier High School, after a student fatally shot himself there yesterday afternoon. More than 25 counselors were at the school for students and teachers still trying to cope with what happened.
All schools in Texas must have suicide prevention plans to help teachers and faculty identify and address suicidal behavior, says Karen Ranus of the Austin Chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness. These signs include changes in behavior, talking about death or a lack of motivation. But, she says, some people are afraid to address these issues openly.
“We’re fearful that if [we] even bring it up, we’ll plant an idea in someone’s head,” says Ranus. “Either they don’t want to make anybody mad, or bring something up to cause somebody to think about something.”
In Texas, suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death in the ages 15 to 19.
Update: At a press conference minutes ago, AISD Superintendent Meria Carstarphen said "our hearts, thoughts and prayers go out to this child's family."
Though classes have been dismissed for the day, the school will be open until 6 p.m. this evening to offer counseling to students and staff of the school, Carstarphen said.
The school will open for classes tomorrow, officials said.
The shooting happened about noon in the courtyard of Lanier High School, district Police Chief Eric Mendez said. He confirmed that it was a self-inflicted gunshot and said the student was pronounced dead at the scene. He said an investigation into the incident is ongoing.
Update: District officials encouraged those affected by the tragedy to call the Austin-Travis County Mobile Crisis Outreach Team's 24-hour hotline at 512-472-HELP.
Update: AISD's Alex Sanchez just confirmed that the student that shot himself at Lanier is dead. A further media briefing is scheduled at 2 p.m.
AISD says on Twitter that the lockdown at Lanier is over. Buses are available to transport students home, and parents may also pick them up themselves. AISD also shares this message from AISD Superintendent Meria Carstarphen:
Original story (1:19 p.m.): A male student shot himself at Lanier High School today.
Reports of a lockdown at Lanier High School began circulating on social media shortly before 12:30 p.m. AISD confirmed the shooting to KUT News shortly after 1 p.m.
While there are conflicting reports on whether the lockdown has been lifted, parents can pick their children up from the high school.
No further details are available on the student's condition at this time. A media briefing has been scheduled within the half-hour. KUT will update this post with more details as they are available.